Yet Another Scalawag
If I somehow discovered that I was related to a Confederate soldier, I’d be shouting for joy and doing backflips in the middle of the street. It never ceases to amaze me though when I see someone who has such a connection and who feels they need to belittle it.
Jill Howard Church’s motivations are pretty clear, at least to me. By denigrating her history she shows the world what an enlightened person she is. She easily trades what I would give anything to have in return for the favorable opinions of people whose opinions aren’t worth a damn anyway. And she doesn’t even realize that she’s getting the short end of the deal.

The Atlanta Journal Constipation fields yet another reconstructed Southerner who belittles her people and their history while trying to show the world what an enlightened person she is. Tell me something Jill – why is it that all the drones working for your newspaper seem to have the same opinion on this particular subject? Whoops! I just answered my own question – it’s because they are all drones! 
Yes, General Rains developed land mines. They were employed in defense of his homeland in a desperate attempt to keep the invaders out. He did not go sow them in the North. 
And it was southerners like Pat Cleburne, Mary Chestnut, Alexander Stephens, Jeff Davis and Judah Benjamin who all said the same thing – “all we ask is to be left alone.” But the doctrinaires in the North couldn’t bring themselves to do that. Some things never change it seems. Today, their descendents simply ask “to be left alone” to celebrate their history.  And today, as back then, the doctrinaires, whose ranks are now filled with people like you, say “no”! 
General Rains may have invented land mines, but he did not invent the concept of “Total War.” You know what “Total War” is, don’t you? It’s when you make war on the enemy’s civilians. That concept was invented, employed and perfected by Yankee generals like Sherman, Sheridan and others, and signed off on by old Father Abraham himself. Maybe after you’re through flagellating yourself for being a Southerner, maybe after you’ve finished wiping your feet on your own history, you can do a sad, weepy column on the plight of the Native American. Because after Lincoln’s boys in blue got through doing their “Total War” thing on your ancestors, they went west and did the same thing and worse to him. 
I suppose that all this talk about lynching is supposed to make me weep. Well, it doesn’t. Frankly, the whole thing has been exaggerated. Taking the law into one’s own hands is never a good thing, but I’ll wager that there are more murders in Detroit in one year than there were lynchings in entire South in any 5 year period you can choose. Care to make a bet? I don’t suppose, living in the South as you do, that you’ve ever noticed the high percentage of black folks who have always lived there….BY CHOICE!? Funny thing – one would think that if conditions were so terrible there that the black folks would have all packed up and moved. Historically though, they’ve always chosen to make their homes in the South. Maybe you could do an article on why that is? 
And don’t quote the Confederate Constitution, because it would appear that you know little or nothing about it. The reference you cite prevented the Confederacy’s CENTRAL GOVERNMENT from interfering with the institution of slavery. This restriction did not apply to the individual states themselves, which were free to keep slavery or abolish it within their borders as they chose. You are probably not aware that entrance into the Confederacy by a state was not restricted to slave states. Free states were allowed to apply for admission. Didn’t know that, did you? 
And as far as slavery itself goes, slaves were transported into this country first by English ships and later by ships from New England. It was England and New England which profited the most from the trade in slaves. Yet it was these two political entities which later, after they ceased making money from it, became abolitionist in their sentiment. The lesson is an old one – first you get the money, then you get the morals. 
Don’t expect me to break out my handkerchief and sob over the fact that the South had slavery. The institution is the second oldest institution on the planet. Everyone’s had it, I offer no apologies for it, and, having read the “Slave Narratives” in its entirety, I will stack the condition of the Southern slave against that of any other slave in any other part of the world or in any other time, and without hesitation. Stop being melodramatic. No one’s “back” got “broken.” And “atrocities” were not the norm, they were the exceptions. 
And stop whining about Leo Frank and the Jews. No one has forgotten anything. Forgetting is not a Southern trait, (see William Faulkner’s famous comment), it’s a Yankee one. For your information, the oldest Jewish military cemetery in the U.S. is in Richmond. The first people buried there were Jewish Confederate soldiers. You see, Jill, we of the Southern cause take care of our own, and we remember them. We not only remember the Confederate soldier, but the Confederate civilian as well. We remember all those of other races, religions and ethnicities who served in our ranks. We remember the service of the black men who served in support positions as well as those who fought, and we also remember the black folks who stayed at home and looked after our families while we were off at the war. No, it wasn’t the happy-go-lucky egalitarian paradise that you think you currently live in (which is really only a figment of your imagination), but it was home to us. It was where we came from, it was the land that we loved, and it was a hell of a lot better than the mess that existed in the North. And it was worth fighting for! 
Yes, it was caste-like in its makeup. But people of all classes earned the respect of others, both from their own class and other classes, by performing the duties that were expected of them and by performing them well. You’re from Virginia? Well then, you must have heard of Robert E Lee’s famous advice – “Duty is the sublimest word in the English language. Do your duty in all things, you can never hope to do more, you should never try to do less.” It was one of the driving principles of the old South. It was a precept that all classes of Southerners aspired to. I don’t suppose you could pry your head out of your 21st century butt long enough to see that now, could you? 
Finally, don’t muse about “lessons learned” from that war. I’m a lot older than you, I suspect. When I was growing up, Americans did not try to demonize either side. Columnists did not write columns like yours or try to denigrate who they were. The modern day nation state of America emerged from the ashes of that war and all of us who were Americans realized it and honored the sacrifices of the men on both sides. Today, all that has changed. Today, a dumbed-down nation and its people play “good guys and bad guys.” Yes, there is a lesson to be learned alright but you aren’t going to like it. Here’s the lesson – some people just can’t leave well enough alone. Some people simply can’t find it in themselves to let others live their lives as they see fit. Some people aren’t happy unless they are forcing themselves and their beliefs down someone else’s throat. When that happens, there is conflict. In the case of 150 years ago, the cost of that conflict was 620,000 lives. 
Bill Vallante
Commack NY
Sons of Confederate Veterans, Associate Member, Camps 3000, 1506, 1961, 2086 
PS- you’d better hope that your ancestor who originally owned that Confederate sword/ family heirloom stays dead. Because if he ever comes back to life and sees what you’ve written, he’ll hit you over the head with it.